I escaped the Cambodia Blackjack scam just in time

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  • #824 Reply


    Wow Daniel, it seems like you got lucky there (or maybe you were just smart). Most victims who get sucked into this blackjack scam don’t simply walk out of it without being financially cleaned out. Read more at http://tourist-scams.com/phnom-penh-cambodia/blackjack-scam/

  • #819 Reply

    Daniel Nixon

    I was approached by a local stranger in a park in Phnom Penh, who asked me where I was from. When I answered I’m from New Zealand, he yelled: “What a coincidence, my daughter is going to study at the University of Auckland next year”. He offered me to have lunch at his place to meet his daughter and maybe tell her a little bit about New Zealand.
    I got into a tuk-tuk with him and drove to a house somewhere in the outskirts of the city. There were a handful of men in the house, but the daughter was nowhere to be seen. He told me she had to take her grandmother to the hospital for a checkup and would return shortly. They gave me a plate of fried rice and some soup, but as I didn’t feel very well, I ate just a little bit, even though they kept offering me more food and encouraged me to eat more. But I felt even more strange after a few bites, so I didn’t have a lot of food (which I later realized must have saved me, when I googled for Phnom Penh Blackjack scam afterwards).
    One of the men started talking to me and told me he and a friend had discovered a strategy to win big money in the casino, and had agreed to split the winnings. However, his friend had disappeared with all the money, leaving him with nothing. So he asked me to join him in the casino to play together and get guaranteed winnings at blackjack.
    For some kind of reason, I just felt like I couldn’t refuse, so I followed him to a blackjack table in another room of the house, where we could practice our signals before heading out to the real casino. After half an hour, the man told me we could even win some money before going to the casino, as a friend of him would pass by later that day.
    That friend was a professional Mahjong player from Singapore, who would carry a large sum of money, but who wouldn’t be great at blackjack. The player actually looked like a professional, dressed in a fancy suit with an expensive watch and jewelry.
    As I still hadn’t put any of my own money down, I didn’t see any harm in the game, even though it all seemed rather strange to me. So after a couple of rounds playing with my new-found friend’s hundred dollar bills, the professional player put a briefcase on the table, which was filled with bills. He said he wanted to play against me for $ 50,000.
    Naturally, I declined, as I don’t even have that kind of money, let alone gamble with it against a professional player whom I just met. But he insisted, and I felt rather intimidated in this place where I didn’t know anyone and didn’t know where I was. And by this time I was 100% sure I had stepped into a scam.
    My original blackjack-friend offered to take me to an ATM where I could withdraw some money, which he would match with his own money, so we could split our winnings. I thought this would be an excellent chance to get away from the house and out of the situation, so I agreed.
    When he pulled the car over at a local bank, I made a run for it and didn’t even look back. I hid in a souvenir shop for a while, and then found a taxi to take me back to my hotel. Afterwards, I heard this scam is run by an international organized crime syndicate, and I was lucky to be able to escape from them without giving them any money.

  • #5187 Reply

    Luca Krämer

    Hello Daniel,

    I’m from Germany and today I made the same mistake. I had an moto-accident yesterday, and when I walked around the royal palace area, a khmer woman and a khmer man, they were siblings, stopped next to me, asking for my wounds. We had a friendly and open conversation and after 10 minutes, they invited me to enjoy some local food at their place. I’m always interested in meeting local people and I wanted to be less distrustful, so I jumped over my own shadow and hopped on. On our way, we were driving confusing, unmemorable routes to an house located in a neighbourhood without any tourists or something. After I told them wrongly that I’m from Austria, they wanted me to get to know her cousin, living in Stuttgart to talk german with her. I entered a small kitchen with an old housewife and sat down in the living room, where they served me food. It was actually pretty good, haha. I just ate with the sister (according to other articles I read about this scam, they put drugs in the food… Afterwards I have to say, that I just felt a little bit dizzy the whole time) and we had some really nice talks about travelling, house holding and she offered me her house whenever I want to come back to Phnom Penh. Two or three times, while we were eating, an old man (55-65y/o) entered the room, and told me that he is an professional casino dealer on a cruise ship in Hanoi, he even had a photo of this ship on the wall. I told the siblings before that I want to go to Hanoi next week, what a coincidence.
    He told me about his blackjack skills and how he and his former partner scammed people in the casino. I actually wanted to see his tricks and I must seemed really interested, so he lead me to another room showing the skills he has got, which were actually pretty impressive. Accidentally, of course, he was in the expectation of one of his long-time-players, a guy from Singapore with loads of money, and why shouldn’t I play a round with him. The dealer wanted to borrow me the money and at this moment I knew, this is a scam, but I didnt know if I’m the scammed one or if they just used me to scam the Singaporean. So we played 7 games and of course I won all of them, and I was about to win the whole game with $30.000. But before we flipped our cards, the dealer wanted me to show the money I’ve got. I told him that I’ve got nothing, but they forced me more or less to go to the ATM. When we arrived I showed them, that my balance is around $13 and they got upset and left me alone.
    After telling this story I feel really, really naive and stupid, I read other stories, with drugs and something but I don’t and I will never know. Actually I would never ever do something like this.

    I was lucky because I’m poor, and I learned some serious Blackjack Skills. But please be aware of very friendly locals, inviting you for dinner!!!

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